Quebec Liberals Call For Change

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Liberal MP Bob Rae arrives to the Liberal caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 11, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick | CP

(CBC) -- A group of high-ranking Liberals in Quebec is lining up against the federal party's executive, releasing an open letter to the media that argues top Liberals aren't interested in real change, and that an interim party leader shouldn't be barred from running for the permanent leadership.

Steve Pinkus, a former vice-president of the federal Liberals in Quebec, Désirée McGraw, who chaired a party renewal task force in 2006, and Rachel Bendayan, who sits on the judicial commission of the party's Quebec wing, wrote an op-ed outlining the characteristics they think an interim Liberal leader should have.

But the trio also lay out some of the problems they say they've seen with the party's internal politics.

"We have been lobbying the party establishment for reform for many years — without much success," they write.

"Many of us were actively involved in the Liberal Party's 2006 'Renewal Commission' … Yet the results of this massive effort were shelved by party apparatchiks because what they sought was the appearance of party renewal — not the reality."

Pinkus, McGraw and Bendayan also take aim at the rules the party's executive set for the interim leader, which don't allow that leader to run for the more permanent party leadership.

Those rules were seen by some to exclude former Ontario premier Bob Rae, who has twice before run or expressed interest in the party's top job.

But Rae announced Thursday he would put himself forward for interim leader. Montreal MP Marc Garneau had said he would run, but stepped back after Rae announced his intentions, saying he needed to consult his supporters.

"We cannot afford to preclude anyone who offers to serve just because he or she may have further aspirations of leadership one day," the three Quebec Liberals write, adding they're not endorsing a particular candidate.

"The matter of who ultimately leads our rewnewed party should be openly decided by rank-and-file members, not by backroom deals among party elites."

The trio argue for co-chairs to lead the revamping process, "drawn from both the Liberal caucus and party members."

The caucus of 34 MPs and 45 senators is scheduled to meet on Wednesday to vote on their recommendation for interim leader. That recommendation will go to the party executive, which will appoint the interim leader.

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